Product Design and Development

Why Study Product Design & Development?  

Designers play an important part in our daily lives. They determine the form and function of the products we use. They transform ideas into drawings and plans for the creation and manufacture of useful products that fulfil human needs and wants. In recent history the use of resources to create an ever-increasing array of products has given designers an increased responsibility to think sustainably. Students develop an understanding of the consequences of product design choices. They develop the necessary skills to critically analyse existing products and to develop their own creative solutions. VCE Product Design and Technology can provide a pathway to a range of related fields such as industrial, product, interior and exhibition design, engineering, and fashion, furniture, jewellery, textile and ceramic design at both professional and vocational levels. Moreover, VCE Product Design and Technology can inform sustainable behaviours and develop technical skills to present multiple solutions to everyday life situations. It contributes to creating confident and unique problem solvers and project managers well equipped to deal with the multi-disciplinary nature of modern workplaces.   


The study is made up of four units:

Unit 1: Product re-design and sustainability

Unit 2: Collaborative design

Unit 3: Applying the product design process

Unit 4: Product development and evaluation

Outcomes define what students will know and be able to do as a result of undertaking the study.  

Unit 1: Product re-design and sustainability 

This unit focuses on the analysis, modification and improvement of a product design with consideration of the materials used and issues of sustainability. Finite resources and the proliferation of waste require sustainable product design thinking. Many products in use today have been redesigned to suit the changing needs and demands of users but with little consideration of their sustainability. Knowledge of material use and suitability for particular products is essential in product design.

Additionally, knowledge of the source, origin and processing of materials is central to sustainable practices. Students consider the use of materials from a sustainable viewpoint. Sustainable practices claimed to be used by designers are examined.

Area of Study 1 provides an introduction and structured approach towards the Product design process and Product design factors. Students learn about intellectual property (IP), its implications related to product design and the importance of acknowledging the IP rights of the original designer. In Area of Study 2, students produce a re-designed product safely using tools, equipment, machines and materials, compare it with the original design and evaluate it against the needs and requirements outlined in their design brief. If appropriate, a prototype made of less expensive materials can be presented; however, the specific materials intended for the final product would need to be indicated. A prototype is expected to be of full scale and considered to be the final design of a product before production of multiples. 

Outcome 1  
On completion of this unit the student should be able to re-design a product using suitable materials with the intention of improving aspects of the product’s aesthetics, functionality or quality, including consideration of sustainability.  

Outcome 2  
On completion of this unit the student should be able to use and evaluate materials, tools, equipment and processes to make a re-designed product or prototype, and compare the finished product or prototype with the original design.  

Unit 2: Collaborative Design

In this unit students work in teams to design and develop an item in a product range or contribute to the design, planning and production of a group product. They focus on factors including: human needs and wants; function, purpose and context for product design; aesthetics; materials and sustainability; and the impact of these factors on a design solution.

Teamwork encourages communication between students and mirrors professional design practice where designers often work within a multi-disciplinary team to develop solutions to design problems. Students also examine the use of ICT to facilitate teams that work collaboratively but are spread across the globe.

In this unit students are able to gain inspiration from an historical and/or a cultural design movement or style and its defining factors such as ideological or technological change, philosophy or aesthetics.

In Area of Study 1, students work both individually and as members of a small design team to address a problem, need or opportunity and consider the associated human-centred design factors. They design a product within a range, based on a theme, or a component of a group product. They research and refer to a chosen style or movement. In Area of Study 2 the product produced individually or collectively is evaluated.     

Outcome 1  
On completion of this unit the student should be able to design and plan a product, a product range or a group product with component parts in response to a design brief based on a common theme, both individually and within a team.  

Outcome 2  
On completion of this unit the student should be able to justify, manage and use appropriate production processes to safely make a product and evaluate, individually and as a member of a team, the processes and materials used, and the suitability of a product or components of a group product against the design brief.  

Unit 3: Applying the Product design process

In this unit students are engaged in the design and development of a product that meets the needs and expectations of a client and/or an end-user, developed through a design process and influenced by a range of complex factors. These factors include the purpose, function and context of the product; human-centred design factors; innovation and creativity; visual, tactile and aesthetic factors; sustainability concerns; economic limitations; legal responsibilities; material characteristics and properties; and technology. Design and product development and manufacture occur in a range of settings. An industrial setting provides a marked contrast to that of a ‘one-off situation’ in a small ‘cottage’ industry or a school setting. Although a product design process may differ in complexity or order, it is central to all of these situations regardless of the scale or context. This unit examines different settings and takes students through the Product design process as they design for others.

In the initial stage of the Product design process, a design brief is prepared. It outlines the context or situation around the design problem and describes the needs and requirements in the form of constraints or considerations.

In Area of Study 1, students examine how a design brief is structured, how it addresses particular Product design factors and how evaluation criteria are developed from the constraints and considerations in the brief. They develop an understanding of techniques in using the design brief as a springboard to direct research and design activities.

In Area of Study 2, students examine how a range of factors, including new and emerging technologies, and international and Australian standards, influence the design and development of products within industrial manufacturing settings. They consider issues associated with obsolescence and sustainability models. In Area of Study 3, students commence the application of the Product design process for a product design for a client and/or an end-user, including writing their own design brief which will be completed and evaluated in Unit 4.       

Outcome 1  
On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain the roles of the designer, client and/or end-user/s, the Product design process and its initial stages, including investigating and defining a design problem, and explain how the design process leads to product design development.

Outcome 2  
On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain and analyse influences on the design, development and manufacture of products within industrial settings.  

Outcome 3  
On completion of this unit the student should be able to present a folio that documents the Product design process used while working as a designer to meet the needs of a client and/or an end-user, and commence production of the designed product.

Unit 4: Product development and evaluation  

In this unit students learn that evaluations are made at various points of product design, development and production. In the role of designer, students judge the suitability and viability of design ideas and options referring to the design brief and evaluation criteria in collaboration with a client and/or an end-user. Comparisons between similar products help to judge the success of a product in relation to a range of Product design factors. The environmental, economic and social impact of products throughout their life cycle can be analysed and evaluated with reference to the Product design factors. In Area of Study 1, students use comparative analysis and evaluation methods to make judgments about commercial product design and development.In Area of Study 2, students continue to develop and safely manufacture the product designed in Unit 3, Outcome 3, using materials, tools, equipment and machines, and record and monitor the production processes and modifications to the production plan and product. In Area of Study 3, students evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of techniques they used and the quality of their product with reference to evaluation criteria and client and/or end-user feedback. Students make judgments about possible improvements. They produce an informative presentation to highlight the product’s features to the client and/or an end-user and explain its care requirements.       

Outcome 1  
On completion of this unit the student should be able to compare, analyse and evaluate similar commercial products, taking into account a range of factors and using appropriate techniques.  

Outcome 2  
On completion of this unit the student should be able to safely apply a range of production skills and processes to make the product designed in Unit 3, and manage time and resources effectively and efficiently.    


Satisfactory Completion  

The award of satisfactory completion for a unit is based on a decision that the student has demonstrated achievement of the set of outcomes specified for the unit. This decision will be based on the teacher’s assessment of the student’s performance on assessment tasks designated for the unit.

Levels of Achievement

Units 1 and 2  

Emmaus College students complete graded Assessment Tasks and Semester Examinations as part of the Assessment process for Units 1 and 2.  

Units 3 and 4 

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority supervise the assessment of all students undertaking Units 3 and 4.

Percentage contributions to the study score in Product Design and Technology are as follows:

School-assessed Coursework (Units 3 and 4)  20 percent
School-assessed Task (Units 3 and 4)              50 percent
End-of-year examination:                                 30 percent